NORTHWOOD FC   Tuesday 20th November 2012   ASHFORD TOWN

Red Insure Cup Round Two

  Northwood 1  Ashford Town 0   

Bellotti 60


Team line-up  

  Team line-up
1 James Reading     1 Kyle Merson
2 Ricky Rogers     2 Jack Mullan
3 Ryan Phillips     3 Alex Duffy (70m)
4 John Christian     4 Russell Canderton
5 Reece Yorke (53m)     5 Bairoh Conteh
6 Mark Burgess     6 Jim Mann
7 Adamson Ajayi (66m)     7 Joe Bennett
8 James Fraser     8 Scott Weight
9 Adam Pepera     9 Dan Brown (70m)
10 Oliver Hawkins     10 Kofi Lockhart-Adams
11 Jack Hutchinson (78m)     11 Harry Knock
Substitutes     Substitutes
12 Brad Hewitt     12 Pietro Palladino (70m)
14 Craig White (78m)     14 Perry Luckins
15 Romaine Walker (66m)     15 Ed Thomas (70m)
16 Spencer Bellotti (53m)     16 Samad Kazi
17 Lee Grant     17 Tyler Tobin
      Referee: Mark Mellor; Assistants: Mark Sennett & Mike Heavey      
  REPORT by Alan Evans   

The Woods moved into the last sixteen of the Red Insure Cup with this narrow victory over their Middlesex divisional rivals from Ashford Town. The side was changed slightly from that which had picked up six points from away league matches during the previous seven days, with Ryan Phillips, James Fraser and Adam Pepera given starts with Lee Grant, John Christian and Spencer Bellotti rested to the bench. But when Brad Hewitt rolled an ankle in the warm-up, Christian was restored to the midfield and manager Mark Burgess dropped back to a defensive role.

The Woods started brightly, knocking the ball around comfortably and it was Phillips who was first to test goalkeeper Kyle Merson with a shot that he held high above his head. Jack Hutchinson, possibly playing in his last game while considering a move to Wingate & Finchley, ploughed a solo furrow through the centre of the Ashford defence but was eventually crowded out.

After 12 minutes, top scorer Adamson Ajayi got forward down the right and played a neat ball inside to Oliver Hawkins whose excellent strike was pushed wide by the alert keeper. The visitors were struggling to make any real impact but notched their first effort on goal on 19 minutes when youngster Harry Knock tried his luck from distance but the ball flew well over the top.

Northwood continued to dominate but without really threatening with Ajayi’s typical run and shot creeping just wide of the target being the closest to taking a lead before the break. Reece Yorke was replaced by Bellotti soon after the restart, with Pepera moving back into defence, and it was the catalyst for a lift in the Woods attacking prowess. After 57 minutes Phillips knocked in an excellent free-kick which looked like picking out Bellotti but flew just inches wide of his attempted header.

A minute later some good approach work from Bellotti saw him set up Ajayi for a strike which deflected off a defender and flash just wide. From the resulting corner the ball fell for Bellotti again whose shot on the turn forced Merson into a good stop. The change in tempo finally paid off on the hour when Hawkins raced onto a ball down the left and he battled past the challenge of Jim Mann to pull the ball back across and Bellotti was there to volley a shot into the roof of the net and give Merson no chance.

Ashford had a chance to hit back almost immediately as Dan Brown knocked in a good cross but Kofi Lockhart-Adams headed wide. It was only a brief threat though as the Woods continued to enjoy the better of the game. Man of the Match Hawkins headed down for substitute Romaine Walker and he saw his shot saved by the keeper. Then Walker turned provider with a good cross which was knocked down to Hawkins by Bellotti but the tall striker shot just wide of the near post. The attack was working well together and Bellotti was again denied by Merson in goal with a shot that was deflected and could have crept inside the post.

The Ashford goalkeeper continued to do well, making a fine save from Hawkins after he had exchanged passes with Ricky Rogers, but then he transgressed with picking up a back-pass and, for the second time in a week, the Woods were awarded a free-kick less than ten yards from goal. Again, they failed to take advantage though. Fraser was next to be denied by a Merson save on 81 minutes while James Reading, a bystander for much of the game, was finally tested a minute later with a comfortable save from substitute Pietro Palladino.

Bellotti latched onto a neat flick from Hawkins and finally slotted past Merson only for the goal to be ruled out by a very close offside decision. It could have proved a real problem if Reading had not managed to keep out a late Palladino effort as Ashford rallied but in fact the Woods held on to their narrow advantage.

A third successive win under new manager Mark Burgess was good to see and with Northwood still in three cup competitions and only four points off the play-off places, hopes remain high for continued success.